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EU leaders haggle over bloc's top jobs8k8 register

马立奥告状大王 | 8k8 register | Updated: 2024-07-21 16:02:54

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gestures next to Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander de Croo as they attend a European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels, Belgium June 17, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

European Union leaders failed to reach an agreement on the bloc's top jobs on Monday night in their informal summit despite some favorite names being supported by many member states.

It was widely expected before the meeting that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, of the European People's Party, would secure a second five-year term.

Monday's gathering was the first for the 27 member heads of state since European elections earlier this month, which saw far-right parties gain ground and prompt French President Emmanuel Macron to call snap elections.

Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa, 62, is a hot candidate to be the next European Council president, now held by former Belgian prime minister Charles Michel.

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, 46, is regarded as a favorite candidate for the EU foreign policy chief, now held by Spain's Josep Borrell, while Malta's Roberta Metsola might remain as European Parliament president for 2.5 years.

"There is no agreement tonight," Michel told reporters after the long dinner meeting, adding that he was not surprised at all because the purpose of the meeting was not to make a decision. He said the gathering was a "good occasion to exchange views" and the goal was to have "an in-depth exchange of views and share concerns, priorities, hopes and expectations".

EU leaders are expected to reach an agreement when they meet for a formal summit on June 27-28. The EPP, the largest political group in the European Parliament, is said to eye three of the four top jobs. The party is a big winner in the June 6-9 European Parliament election.

EPP was reportedly proposing to Socialists & Democrats, or S&D, the second largest group in the parliament that the European Council presidency be split into two 2.5 years for them. Both von der Leyen and Metsola belong to the EPP.

Vote on the nominees

But the S&D, which wants their own candidate Portugal's Costa to be the European Council president, disagreed with such a proposal.

The new European Parliament will vote on the nominees after the European Council reaches an agreement in next week's summit.

While von der Leyen is supported by many national leaders, including Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, she is still under investigation for the so-called Pfizergate — a scandal over her failure to disclose exchanges with Pfizer's chairman and CEO Albert Bourla.

Von der Leyen also drew fire this week after media reported that she has sought to slow down an official EU report criticizing Italy for its eroding press freedom to seek support for her second term from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, from the far-right Brothers of Italy party. Meloni's party won 28 percent of the votes in Italy in last week's election.

"The will of the European people was ignored today in Brussels," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on X, accusing the EPP of not listening to the voters but instead trying to team up with socialists and liberals to divide the top jobs among themselves.

Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University, said he does not expect any immediate impact of the European election on EU-China relations.

"Since the three-pronged approach of 'cooperation partner, economic competitor and systemic rival' was approved by the European Council and has become a consensus among member states, it is unlikely to have fundamental change without a major political shift in the European Parliament election," he said.

Agencies and Jonathan Powell in London contributed to this story.

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